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Employment in USA


The ability to work in the United States depends on your education and work experience involved. All foreign workers must obtain permission to work legally in the United States. Each employment category for admission has different requirements, conditions and authorized periods of stay. It is important that you adhere to the terms of your application or petition for admission and visa. Any violation can result in removal or denial of re-entry into the United States.

Most people come on H1B visas for skilled work, defined as a position requiring a 4 year degree or its equivalent in training and experience. It also requires an employer to sponsor the applicant and file paperwork first in the US. In other words, a work permit is granted only if there’s a job waiting for you and usually the employer helps in the paperwork and verify the need for a foreign skilled worker as opposed to an American.



Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Worker

A temporary worker is an individual seeking to enter the United States temporarily for a specific purpose. Nonimmigrants enter the United States for a temporary period of time, and once in the United States, are restricted to the activity or reason for which their nonimmigrant visa was issued.

Permanent (Immigrant) Worker

A permanent worker is an individual who is authorized to live and work permanently in the United States.

Students and Exchange Visitors

Students and exchange visitors may, under certain circumstances, be allowed to work in the United States. They must obtain permission from an authorized official at their school. The authorized official is known as a Designed School Official (DSO) for students and the Responsible Officer (RO) for exchange visitors.



Although there are multitude of skills and qualifications that U.S. employers seek from every applicant, here are three important things you must have if you wish to work in the United States: 1) Permit to work 2) Be a skilled worker 3) Communication and presentation skills.

  1. Permit to work: If you wish to work in the US, you will need an immigration visa that gives you authorization to work in the US. Failure to secure this type of working visa can subject you to fines, criminal charges, and even deportation from the United States. If an individual is not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States they will need a permit to work, officially known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), to prove eligibility to work in the US. Before starting your job hunt, keep in mind that your new job must be with a company that will sponsor your H1B visa/work visa. Not every company will sponsor visa for you. As a foreign national (immigrant) who wants to work in the USA, you need to plan and execute an extremely focused H1B job search strategy if you want to succeed.
  2. Be a skilled worker: The days of hiring generalists are gone. Today, U.S. employers are seeking for applicants who possess particular skills, be them technical—like computer skills, for instance—or analytical—like problem solving. In some cases, these skills are specialized and specific to particular types of jobs. To make yourself stand out from the rest of the candidates, you need to make sure that you stay up to date on the latest happenings with the many technologies and trends. This will help you tremendously when you have your interview.
  3. Communication and presentation skills: You need communications skills for understanding and developing rapport with prospective employers. Your communication skills underscore your logic and reasoning. Most jobs require not only strong vocal communications skills but also strong writing skills. As such, recruiters look at the ability to write clearly on different mediums. This include writing by hand, writing emails and writing on different Internet platforms such as the company's website and social media pages.



Every year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses a computer generated process to randomly select the number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all cap-subject petitions that are not selected, unless found to be a duplicate filing.

There should always be an Employer who will sponsor Visa for you. You cannot apply your own visa independently, never. Most of the Indian companies who send their employee to onsite cover all the expenses in applying the visa, but few individuals who want to apply on their own VISA who doesn’t have chance to get sponsored by a company can also be done by coordination with some private run company, but the difference is that you have to cover your VISA fees.



There are multiple types of work visa for working in US. The following are the common types of visa:

H1B Visa: Dr. Michio Kaku rightly named H1B visa as the “America’s Secret Weapon” in one of his interviews because H1B visa attracts people all over the country to work in the USA.  The H1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in science, engineering, architecture, mathematics and medicine. US employers can begin applying for the H-1B visa six months before the actual start date of the visa. Current immigration law allows for a total of 85000 new H-1B every year.

Eligibility: The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  • Have a minimum entry requirement of a Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent.
  • The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can performed only by an individual with a degree
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position.
  • Have completed a US bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university.
  • Hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to a US bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation.

Visa length: The H-1B visa is initially granted for up to three years, but may be extended to a maximum of six years.

Family & Dependents: H-1B visa holders can bring their spouse and children under 21 years of age to the US under the H4 Visa category as dependent.

H-2A (Seasonal agricultural workers): An H-2A visa allows US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs for which US workers are not available. An H-2A nonimmigrant classification applies to you if you seek to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature in the United States on a temporary basis.

H-2B (Skilled and unskilled workers):  This visa is required if you are coming to the United States to perform a job which is temporary or seasonal in nature and for which there is a shortage of US workers. The employer must also prove that there are no unemployed US workers willing or able to the work.

Visa Validity: The duration of the visa is limited to the employer’s need for the temporary workers. The maximum authorized period is one year. However, the employer may extend the duration of the visa up to three years.

H-3 (Trainee):  An H-3 visa is required if you are coming to the United States to receive training from an employer in any field of endeavor, other than graduate education or training, for a period of up to two years. You can be paid for your training and “hands-on” work is authorized.

H-4 (Dependents): If you are the principal holder of a valid H visa, your spouses, and children (under age 21) may receive an H-4 visa to accompany you to the United States. However your spouse/children are not permitted to work while in the United States.



Permanent Employment - Hiring a non-citizen requires efforts by the employer to prove to the Department of Labor that the non-citizen employee is not taking the job away from a qualified, interested and available U.S. worker. Therefore, there are lesser chances for the employers to hire a non-citizen permanently. If the process has started early enough, an employee who is in H-1B status can extend that status beyond six years and until the employee becomes a permanent resident.

Contractual Employment - U.S. employers also provide employment on a contract basis meaning that they are usually hired to work on a specific project or for a specific amount of time. Client companies often hire on a contract basis because they have work that needs to be completed, but they don’t want to permanently add to their headcount. Employment term may be based on the completion of a project, the availability of funding, or other circumstances.  Contractual employees, however, may have the opportunity to achieve permanent employment status after the time period has lapsed. Employees are paid in hourly basis, so they will get for their overtime work. Employees may need to relocate and move to another place for work if their contract with their company ends. They will also be required to attend an interview every time they plan to join a new company. Therefore, it is recommended to always stay prepared and continue to hone your skills no matter what segment of the industry you are pursuing.



Go to to see an extensive list of things you should consider to make sure you have a smooth transition from India to the United States.



Visa links

Apply for a U.S. visa in India


Contributors: Johnson Elangbam, Shilpa Phairembam Weiss


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